Over the last week, the Highlander staff and family have been holding the hard news of the death of Frank Adams, who served as Highlander’s director from 1970-1973. Frank died on the evening of March 16 while surrounded by his loved ones, including his wife Margaret and his children and grandchildren.

We find it nearly impossible to record the impact that Frank had on Highlander, the South, and the world. Frank and his partner, Margaret, were instrumental in helping us move to New Market, TN, where we have been in service to movement longer than any other home in our 85-year history. He authored numerous papers, pamphlets, and books—some more far reaching than others, but all equally radical and critical for movement-building, worker-owned cooperatives, economic democracy, and education for social change. Among his many publications is Unearthing Seeds of Fire: The Idea of Highlander, which he wrote with Myles Horton in 1975. He also helped establish the Southern Appalachian Center for Cooperative Ownership and provided intellectual and practical mentorship to countless change-makers seeking ways to transform the economy for all people.

For Highlander staff and family, Frank was always instrumental in shaping our knowledge of the land we call home. Just over two years ago, Frank joined the ribbon cutting that celebrated the construction of the Lilian Johnson Lodge. In ways big and small—in ways both behind the scenes and way out in front—Frank’s love for Highlander helped us to remember where we were. In doing so, Frank helped us remember why and who we are (and ought to be).


A memorial for Frank will be at Highlander later in the year. In the meantime, condolences can be sent to Margaret Adams at 418 Woodlawn Gardens Way, Knoxville, TN 37920 or emailed to his daughter, Mary Thom Adams, at marythom@comcast.net